Download Computing: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential by Paul E. Ceruzzi PDF

By Paul E. Ceruzzi

The heritage of computing will be advised because the tale of and software program, or the tale of the net, or the tale of "smart" handheld units, with subplots concerning IBM, Microsoft, Apple, fb, and Twitter. during this concise and obtainable account of the discovery and improvement of electronic expertise, machine historian Paul Ceruzzi bargains a broader and extra beneficial point of view. He identifies 4 significant threads that run all through all of computing's technological improvement: digitization--the coding of data, computation, and keep an eye on in binary shape, ones and zeros; the convergence of a number of streams of concepts, units, and machines, yielding greater than the sum in their components; the regular increase of digital know-how, as characterised famously via "Moore's Law"; and the human-machine interface. Ceruzzi courses us via computing historical past, telling how a Bell Labs mathematician coined the note "digital" in 1942 (to describe a high-speed approach to calculating utilized in anti-aircraft devices), and recounting the advance of the punch card (for use within the 1890 U.S. Census). He describes the ENIAC, equipped for clinical and army functions; the UNIVAC, the 1st common goal laptop; and ARPANET, the Internet's precursor. Ceruzzi's account lines the world-changing evolution of the pc from a room-size ensemble of equipment to a "minicomputer" to a machine computing device to a pocket-sized clever mobile. He describes the advance of the silicon chip, which may shop ever-increasing quantities of knowledge and enabled ever-decreasing gadget measurement. He visits that hotbed of innovation, Silicon Valley, and brings the tale as much as the current with the web, the realm huge net, and social networking.

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Along with Zuse, other mathematicians, astronomers, and engineers began similar efforts in the late 1930s. 9 Many used IBM tabulators 30 Chapter 2 or telephone switching equipment, which transmitted signals electrically at high speed but calculated mechanically at a lower speed. Other projects used vacuum tubes to do the actual counting, which increased the overall speed of computation by several hundred-fold or more. It is from these latter experiments that the modern electronic digital computer has descended, but the early attempts to compute electronically must be considered in the context of the initial attack on the need to automate the procedure for solving a problem.

But because Babbage had failed to complete a general-purpose computer, many concluded that the idea itself was flawed. Babbage had not gotten far enough in his work to glimpse the theories that Turing, and later John von Neumann, would develop. He did, however, anticipate the notion of the universality of a programmable machine. In a memoir published in 1864 (for many years out of print and hard to find), Babbage remarked: “Thus it appears that the whole of conditions which enable a finite machine to make calculations of unlimited extent are fulfilled in the Analytical Engine.

It represented a staggering increase in ambition and complexity over most of the ambitious computing machines already in use. It did not arise de novo. In the 46 Chapter 2 initial proposal to the army, Mauchly described it as an electronic version of the Bush differential analyzer, careful to stress its continuity with existing technology rather than the clean break it made. And Mauchly had visited J. V. 21 The ENIAC’s design was nothing like either the Babbage or the Atanasoff machines. It used the decimal system of arithmetic, with banks of vacuum tubes that replicated the decimal wheels of an IBM tabulator.

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